Malaysia’s top singles player Lee Zii Jia continued his dream run in his World Championships debut by sealing a place in the last eight but it came the hard way – toiling for 70 minutes before prevailing 21-15, 11-21, 22-20 over Japan’s No 8 seed Kenta Nishimoto.
The 13th ranked Malaysian’s win in Basel on Thursday night took his head to head tally against the 12th ranked Nishimoto to 3-1.
Zii Jia will face his toughest yet battle in the quarter-finals on Friday when he faces the world’s hottest badminton property Kento Momota, the defending champion. The Japanese is also the current world number one and the top seed in Basel.
Momota eased past India’s H.S. Prannoy 21-19, 21-12 in 55 minutes and looks good to retain the world title he won in Nanjing, China last year.
Zii Jia lost both his previous two meetings with Momota but has vowed to “go all out” to keep his challenge alive despite the odds.
“Reaching the quarter-finals in my first world championships is a boost for me. My confidence is also on the high,” said Zii Jia.
Joining Zii Jia in the last eight is professional mixed doubles pair Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying. The Malaysians who are ranked fifth also cam through the full distance – coming back from a game down to beat Japan’s Takuro Hoki-Wakana Nagahara 17-21, 21-13, 21-14 in 63 minutes.
Their opponents for a place in the semi-finals is former All-England champions Yuta Watanabe-Arisa Higashino of Japan. The Japanese ousted England’s husband and wife team of Chris Adcock-Gabrielle Adcock 21-13, 21-11.
Meanwhile, it was also the end for Malaysia’s women’s doubles Vivian Hoo-Yap Cheng Wen but they gave a good account of themselves before losing 21-15, 11-21, 21-8 in a 71-minute
Tan Kian Meng-Lai Pei Jing ended their campaign in the mixed doubles with a 17-21, 7-21 defeat to Thailand’s No 4 seeds Dechapol Puavaranukroh-Sapsiree Taerattanachai in 42 minutes. – BY RIZAL ABDULLAH